Similar to hosting an in-person event, hosting a successful virtual event is a major undertaking that requires extensive planning and tracking. According to data analyzed by Markletic, when it comes to hosting small virtual events, most marketers need between three and six weeks to successfully promote the event.
The payoff from this work can be substantial—68% of marketers say virtual events help them generate leadsaccording to a report sponsored by Content4Demand, Integrate and Selling Simplified.
To get the most out of the time and money invested in virtual events, let’s take a closer look at why virtual events are important to marketers, how they can host them, and what the lifestyle of a successful virtual event.
The importance of virtual events in 2022
A virtual event can take many shapes and forms, but essentially a virtual event is an event that brings multiple people together digitally.
Virtual events are helping marketers achieve their goals long before the pandemic prevents the possibility of hosting in-person events. Naturally, this shift has forced marketers to rely more on virtual events.
Zachary Bosin, vice president of product marketing at BlueJeans, talks about this change.
“If we rewind the clock to before March 2020, marketers were experimenting with webinars and virtual events, but there was still quite a large investment in physical events,” Bosin explained, “The pandemic has forced , almost overnight, this incredible transformation where you had to create something that was more digital.
Even as in-person events return, the convenience, affordability, and reach of virtual events keep them top of mind, making them a popular choice for marketers looking to scale events.
Different types of virtual events
Confused about how to use a virtual event to achieve your marketing goals? Let’s look at some examples of what different virtual events might look like.
- Marketing webinars. You can present and record compelling webinars that generate excitement and expand mind-sharing to large numbers of virtual attendees. It is also possible to record webinars and allow people to view them at the date and time of their choice.
- Corporate events and all-hands meetings. You can make an impact at your next corporate event, no matter where your employees work from with branded and engaging employee experiences. Electrolux, Dolbyand Red Hat have all had success hosting virtual corporate events in recent years.
- Product launches and demos. Show off your latest offerings by digitally announcing new products, increasing brand recognition and reaching millions of people around the world.
- Broadcast interviews. You can host professional and intriguing Q&A conversations that touch on topics your audience cares about.
- Hybrid events. Stream virtually any live event using simple broadcast controls without having to purchase special equipment.
There is unlimited potential when it comes to the types of virtual events your business can host and what they will be used for, but you can see how these events can take many different forms.
The 3 steps to a successful virtual event
When it comes to the lifecycle of a successful virtual event, there are three distinct stages that marketers should give equal care and attention to.
The pre-event planning stages (which include pre-production, lead generation, attendee registration, and determining the format and scope of the event) impose much of the work required to develop a an effective virtual event. Bosin recommends first identifying the desired results. He advises asking yourself what you’re trying to accomplish with your virtual event.
Some potential results may be:
- Release of a new product
- Lead thought leadership
- Launch a marketing campaign
“Ultimately, understanding this outcome and then thinking about who is best able to deliver this message on our behalf serves as a lightning rod to drive attendee participation,” Bosin said.
Mobilization during the event
Speaking of engagement, Bosin explained that with virtual events, quite often you’re trying to replicate an on-site experience. Wherever possible, it is helpful to use digital features that allow people to engage in the same way they would at an in-person event by giving them the ability to raise their hand, ask questions and engage with other event attendees and presenters.
Planning high-quality content is the first step toward hosting a virtual event that people want to attend, but it’s also important to not just hand the event over to a host and keep the public away. to shape the event.
“Handing it to someone and letting them talk for 45 minutes and maybe do a Q&A at the end isn’t going to cut it in terms of what’s going to drive engagement.”
In addition to high broadcast quality, BlueJeans offers high-tech features designed to encourage engagement at virtual events such as:
- Interactive surveys
- Discussion topic
- The ability to display on-screen comments
- Raised hand
- Question and answer capabilities
- Virtual backgrounds
“You want to use all the tools in your tool belt, whether it’s a survey, a Q&A session, a chat, or different engagement mechanisms,” Bosin noted, “One of the new features we are introducing, allows you to take some of the top questions that are being asked and display them on screen.”
Again, hosting a virtual event is a major investment and you don’t want to let that investment go to waste. What you do after an event matters just as much as what you do before and during a virtual event.
“You put so much time and energy into the planning and then it’s event day and you crash it with great conversation and dialogue engagement…you don’t want to [those efforts] to be fleeting,” Bosin explained, “You don’t want this experience to be available only to people who attended those 30 minutes.
So how do you get the most out of your virtual event once it’s already over? Bosin recommends capitalizing on the best parts of the conversation. The advantage of virtual events is that they are digital and you can record them. This gives you the ability to create snackable content that can live in perpetuity.
“Whether you do this by creating social programs, planning an email cadence for event follow-up, or bundling some of the content discussion into an e-book, there are many different ways to reuse that great content, and if you’ve done your homework and you have the right content and the right speakers, that’s where the magic really happens.
Key points to remember
Organizing a successful virtual event involves going back from the desired planning outcomes and planning for the three stages of the event lifecycle: pre-event planning, during-event engagement, and post-event activities.